A DASH OF IRONY
Guess what… a new Starbucks franchisee cafe just opened in Porto… yay.. (not...!)
You know, we've all done things in the past that we’re not proud of. Mine include entering Starbucks a few years back in Madrid on a desperate quest for free wi-fi or going for a BigMAc burguer in Vienna. Oh and… those chicken wings at a KFC in London… shame on me…!! Yes, I have been a lazy tourist, I must admit. Against all guidelines of sustainable tourism, I have 'sinned'. Not proud of it though..!!
Irony aside now: I totally understand people who go in multinational brand cafes or restaurants while visiting a new city, in search for a familiar meal or quick fix of coffee to fight off those jet lag symptoms. I get it, I really do. But if you payed for an airline ticket to Porto, maybe just landed from an intercontinental flight, you deserve much better. And genuine. For unique local cafes - and a decent espresso or specialty coffee - read on:
LOCAL CAFES FROM THE 20's
This one is a classic. Located in Rua de Santa Catarina - our open air shopping center - this bélle epoque cafe kept its elegance throughout the decades and became a touristic hotspot. Despite its age, it has a fairly decent website < check out all the sweet stuff!! To get a table on weekends or even late afternoon on weekdays can be a bit of challenge, though...
If you find MAJESTIC to be a bit too crowded - it's not a large space and it is mentioned in every tourist guide and blog... - you can walk ( or jog ) 400meters down to the central Aliados avenue and check out Guarany.
Guarany, also from the 20's, has more of an Art Deco look. With a privileged location, facing the most central avenue of Porto, this is a classy café and there are even some local artists and poets who still go there everyday.
Running past its entrance, as we reach Aliados Avenue, during a running tour.
3. CAFÉ ÂNCORA D'OURO - o 'Piolho'
Literally it means 'golden anchor'. D'ouro is also the name of the nearby river: DOURO. But put together in Portuguese, the two words read 'ancora-d'ouro/ancoradouro', anchorage or port in English.
It's a centenary café (est. 1909!!) that local students call 'o Piolho' and where they go to grab their first afternoon/night's last beer. If you're not into crowds be sure to avoid Thursday evenings - the student's night. During daytime and weekdays, you'll be fine.
Not fancy and not pricey, you'll have a genuine experience and keep a fairly accurate impression of what a local's unpretentious cafe really is all about.
Sérgio is the founder of Porto Running Tours, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide-storyteller since 2015.
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